Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tributes as the Bench's 'Smiling Assassin' Dies ; Judge Renowned for Passing Tough Sentences in Trademark Charming Manner Passes Away Aged 79

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tributes as the Bench's 'Smiling Assassin' Dies ; Judge Renowned for Passing Tough Sentences in Trademark Charming Manner Passes Away Aged 79

Article excerpt

TRIBUTES have been paid to a judge known as 'the smiling assassin' who has died aged 79. Brian Duckworth was one of the nation's longserving circuit judges when he retired 2007 after 50 years in the law.

He made his name as a defence barrister working in Manchester in the 1970s, sharing an office with David Stockdale, now the Recorder of Manchester, at Deans Court Chambers, which he went on to lead.

His most notorious case was the 1979 'handless corpse' murder of Martin Johnson, whose mutilated body was found weighed down by bricks in a water-filled quarry near Chorley. Five men were later convicted for their part in the killing.

After he became a judge in 1984, he was known as 'the smiling assassin' for the charming way he delivered tough sentences.

His son Felix, 37, said: "He picked up the nickname from colleagues and fellow judge. He could be a very charming man and had a very good sense of humour and when he would deliver his sentences he would do it in his customary style, which was very charming and eloquent. …

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